The annual Physics Olympics event was hosted by the Notre Dame Department of Physics and the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program on Wednesday, June 12. Rising juniors and seniors in the REU programs at Notre Dame, Purdue, and Michigan State participated in the event, though students in those three programs represent undergraduate institutions from all over the country. Overseeing the event were Umesh Garg, professor of experimental nuclear physics, and several Notre Dame graduate and undergraduate students.
“I enjoy being with this bunch of bright, motivated, physics majors, and watching them come up with ingenious (though not always successful) solutions to the problems at hand,” Garg said about his favorite part of hosting the Physics Olympics. “I also like showcasing our physics program and our campus —the Purdue REUs are given my one-dollar campus tour at the end—to these most desired prospective graduate students.”
The NSF-funded Notre Dame REU program, now in its 33rd year, is the longest-running, continuously-funded REU program. It is a ten-week summer program in which rising juniors and seniors work with faculty or conduct their own research in order to get hands-on experience in science. NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. An REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Students are associated with a specific research project, where they work closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.